Richard Wouters of Civil Twilight
My name is Richard Wouters, and I play drums for a band called Civil Twilight. We’re a four-piece originally from Cape Town, South Africa, currently living in Nashville, Tennessee.
Growing up in South Africa, it was always my dream to play drums professionally. I remember reading issues of Modern Drummer when I was a kid and looking at all the cool gear and musicians in the magazine. Now I’m totally living my dream of recording and touring professionally in the States! It’s really amazing.
Civil Twilight is the band that I grew up playing in. We were all friends in middle school and basically learned how to play our instruments together. It was interesting because we developed an almost telepathic communication between us, generated from many years of playing together. Music was always fun for us, and that is what we have tried to keep at the center of everything we do, even to this day.
Steve, our bass player, and I would spend hours every day rehearsing our instruments and practicing. My practice pad became my best friend, and I’d carry my sticks around with me wherever I went. I’d drive all my friends nuts because I was always tapping on stuff! This is what makes being a drummer so great—we have rhythm in our bones, and we see the rhythm in all of life! One of my earliest teachers and mentors, Efrain Toro, taught me this. Everything is made up of rhythm. Every music note can only produce a sound because the sound waves are vibrating at a certain frequency. They are drumming their own beat. Without movement, without rhythm, there would be no sound at all. We would live in a completely silent universe. Rhythm makes everything alive!
I remember another great lesson Efrain taught me. He was really into the conceptual and mental aspect of drumming, and one day he was explaining to me how Steve Gadd could get such a big sound while hardly hitting the drum at all. He was able to play really softly and yet achieve this giant sound. He told me it was because Steve imagined himself being really big and envisioned himself creating a giant sound, even when barely touching the drum. This was something I’d never thought of before, but now, ten years later, I see the truth and power of those words. We create what we imagine. Our internal world creates external worlds. We are the beat keepers and the time keepers in our bands, but we are so much more than that. We are the creators of sound and movement. We are the sculptors of life and color, motion and light. We move people’s hearts, minds, and bodies.
When we see this, I believe something happens. We come alive and so do our instruments. We become true creators. We become true musicians.
For more on Richard Wouters and Civil Twilight, go to civiltwilightband.com.